bits from bob....
I recently received an email from a friend who tried to describe a typical day in his life on the mission field. On course, there are no typical days, and each day is filled with both planned and unplanned activities. He ended up writing about three consecutive days to describe the unforeseen demands that are a part of life on the mission field.
Now that Jan and I no longer have a full-time ministry obligation with a local church, our life of ministry and missions focus in the U.S. is less likely to fill with urgent demands, but it is still unpredictable. I can describe a typical day or a typical week, but an equal number of days and weeks are devoted to ministry and mission activities and trips which take us out of the normal and the routine. Thinking that you might be interested in the question, "What do you do?" I have attempted to reconstruct a picture of our 'normal' life.
When we are at home (in town), we both teach our Wednesday Bible classes-I teach an Early Bird Bible class on Wednesday late afternoon and Jan teaches the cradle roll class on Wednesday night. We also assist with visitation and other church activities as we can. I am blessed to have an office at the church building which gives me a good location for spreading out and organizing various projects.
A typical day begins fairly early-by 6 AM I have had my first couple of cups of coffee, have checked the day's events, taken care of essential emails, perhaps written a blog while checking on my website, and am ready for some time with Jan and a quick look at the day's news and weather on the television. Mornings also include meditation, prayer, and Bible reading.
I am usually on my way to the office by 7:30. No day at the office is "normal." In addition to the flood of emails which has now become a way of life, days include study and preparations for church consulting and ministry, reading and writing projects, preparations for classes and sermons, work on a variety of ministry and mission projects and presentations, and mission reports. My work as chairman of the board for the mission work in Honduras always takes more time than I planned. Then there is always the work I do on behalf of the local congregation. In the midst of these and other activities, I am trying to spend more time in focused writing. Blogging, writing, posting, and maintaining the website combine into an ongoing, never-ending, but rewarding task as the number of visitors to the site continually increases.
January was somewhat typical with regard to events and activities. We chose to schedule the first Sunday of the month at home so we could join area congregations at the annual Area-Wide Worship on Sunday morning. Several hundred were present and we enjoyed seeing and worshiping with brothers and sisters we do not get to see on a regular basis. On Thursday, I began the day earlier than normal so that some pressing tasks could be completed before a morning drive to Fort Smith. The purpose of my trip was to meet with Howard Norton and to evaluate the mission work at Baxter and the clinic during 2010 and to plan 2011 activities. The meeting extended until very late afternoon so that I arrived home shortly after dark. The next day, we were back in Arkansas for an overnight visit with Jan's mother before a Saturday appointment with the church in Mena, Arkansas for their monthly Saturday morning breakfast and for a meeting to consult with the leaders of the church about how to best meet their ministry needs.
During January, we had intended to visit two congregations with an interest in missions, and also to visit the Hispanic church in Tulsa, but cold weather, hazardous driving conditions, and my bout with a severe throat infection postponed those contacts and visits. We did our "grandparent" thing for three days when Morgan came to visit us because she was sick and could not go to school. When we took her home, we enjoyed a Saturday afternoon with Michael's family.
The last two weeks of January were dedicated to finalizing my interim ministry work with the church in Lansing, Michigan. We flew to Michigan and assisted with the installation service for the new minister. I facilitated a Sunday morning installation and commitment service, and a Sunday evening interview with the new minister. I preached on Sunday morning the first week and on Sunday evening the second week, and also taught the auditorium adult Bible class on Sunday and Wednesday during this visit. I met with the elders, with the steering committee planning the 50th Anniversary weekend, and with those serving as chairpersons on various sub-committees. I also spent some time with the new minister in orientation. Along the way, there were three baptisms and several recommitments as the church celebrated the coming of the new minister. We will return to Lansing for the 50th Anniversary celebration in March, but this trip effectively concluded the interim ministry work at Holmes Road-a process which has been ongoing for about six months. We flew home a day early due to the weather forecast of a gigantic winter storm, a storm which likely affected many who read these reports and updates.
All told, in January we were away 13 days and were at home three Sundays (in a five-Sunday month). As we look at our upcoming schedule, it appears most months will have slightly fewer total days away, but more Sunday appointments.
A snapshot of our life! Thank you for your interest, prayers, and support for what we strive to do to advance the cause of Christ in every place where God enables us to serve.